HISTORIC TIMES - Sir Walter Scott and Glasgow

THOUGH Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832), Scotland's most famous writer, is mainly associated with Edinburgh, the Lothians and the Borders, he had many connections with Glasgow.

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When he still worked as an officer of the court, before his literary fame, Scott often attended the Old Court House on Jail Square (now Jocelyn Square), and stayed at an inn on King Street, just around the corner.

Scott's famous 1817 novel Rob Roy, which did much to invent the myth of eponymous MacGregor outlaw, and which today is considered a classic, has many scenes set in Glasgow.

It's in the atmospheric gloom of the crypt of Glasgow Cathedral that Rob Roy speaks out of the shadows to warn Francis Osbaldistone of the danger to his life.

The duo meet again on Stockwell Bridge at midnight and are interviewed in a cell at the Tolbooth, on the Trongate.

Furthermore, there is a quarrel in the gardens of the (now vanished) Old College on High Street. Luckie Flyter's hostelry is placed in the Old Wynd, off Trongate; and Messrs MacVittie and MacFinn pitch up at a counting-house on the Gallowgate.

Rob Roy's most enduring creation, of course, was Bailie Nicol Jarvie, a canny merchant and couthy, cautious urbanite who gets caught up in shenanigans in the Highlands.

From 1872 The Bailie was the premier Glasgow social periodical. Not only was it named after Nicol Jarvie, but it was also supposed to have been edited by him!

Correspondents would address letters to Dear Bylie or My Magistrate.

In 1922 The Bailie published a full biography of its supposed founder, inventing everything from the date and place of his birth to accounts of his early years and education.

When Queen Victoria visited the city in 1849, she was shown, at her request, Nicol Jarvie's house on Saltmarket.

It stood behind the Original Bailie Nicol Jarvie Tavern, both buildings having developed their fake associations purely through the considerable success of Scott's fiction.


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